By Lucy King on behalf of Grade 5
Living in a mega-city in 2017, it’s easy to become disconnected from the impact humans have on the environment. Students today are growing up in a world where technology is ubiquitous and energy usage seems to be ever-increasing. For this reason, our recent grade 5 Unit of Inquiry for ‘Sharing the Planet’ felt particularly relevant and timely. Students inquired into how energy is converted, stored and used, and researched the impact of individual and collective actions on the conservation of energy.
Over this six-week unit, students became aware not only of the vast array of methods used by humankind to harness energy, but also the extent of their own impact on the environment through energy usage. Students investigated alternative energy sources, building on their knowledge through internet and library resources as well as a question-answer session with a solar energy industry specialist.
As a provocation for the summative assessment, students were shown a video in which Dr. Greg Brunton opened an ‘electricity bill’ on camera and put on a splendid performance of his shock and horror at electricity use at WISS, before acting out a few of the common errors – such as leaving doors open – which contribute to energy waste. Horrified at what they saw (and at Dr. Brunton’s tongue-in-cheek suggestion that maybe we should “just tell the cafeteria not to cook food anymore”) students set out to provide their own suggestions of more sensible energy conservation techniques.
These suggestions were set out in letters to Dr. Brunton, and students recorded snapshots of the ideas they found most persuasive in a video clip to pass on to Dr Brunton.
It wasn’t all talk, however. Students also began taking action in class: choosing ‘energy monitors’ to make sure lights are switched off and doors closed, taking steps to reduce the amount of paper printing and wastage, and discussing their own strategies for reducing, reusing and recycling at home.
One student was also selected from each class to go and speak with Dr. Brunton and share their ideas.
It was fantastic to see the students’ passion for the topic grow as they learned more about energy usage and its impact on the Earth.